Although Chocolate had come back from his company retreat at Ho Chi Minh with disappointment as he felt that the food and sights were underwhelming, Marshmallow managed to convince him to visit Halong Bay. Off we went to explore Hanoi, with no plans set other than visiting Halong Bay.
With 4D3N in Hanoi, we were able to do a Halong Bay overnight junk boat cruise which we had booked through our hotel. A Halong Bay 2D1N tour allowed us to island-hop, kayak, do a little hiking and cave-exploring.
Although Halong Bay was the main reason for our visiting of Hanoi, we must say the highlight for us was the food. Given Chocolate’s experience with food at Ho Chi Minh, we have surprisingly fallen in love with Hanoi’s food, especially that at New Day Restaurant. It was just so good, and with such palatable prices, there is really nothing to complain. This is a restaurant that locals visit, but with hotel staff tending to recommend quality restaurants to eat at, there are also many tourists patronising it.
We stayed at a Hanoi Old Quarter hotel called Camel City Hotel, which is near New Day Restaurant and spent our days in the area. Staying at the Old Quarter offers you utmost convenience when you visit Hanoi city’s attractions. Hanoi’s day and night are lively with different vibes. In the day, you see the locals going about their daily business, from workers taking their breakfast at the sidewalk to ladies going to the hairdressers. At night, tourists come back from their excursions and fill the streets, either sitting on a plastic stool by the sidewalk enjoying beer along with some snacks or strolling and shopping.
We joined Hanoi Old Quarter’s night shopping scene and ended up with purchases of a backpack and Civet Cat-shit coffee powder. Smelling different coffee beans from Blue Mountain beans to Civet Cat-shit beans, we also tried them hot and iced at Kim Lai Cafe aka Cafe Gia Truyen Kim Lai, a coffee bean and powder retail shop. Yes, you can ask them to let you taste the coffee (in a proper cup, no less) before purchasing the beans or powder.
Coincidentally, we had visited on a special night because at a junction, we came across locals watching performances with an appearance of a guest-of-honour. Not sure if it was a special occasion or a usual weekend affair, there were also various performances at different spots in the area.
All in all, we got so much more out of this little Vietnam getaway than we had expected. Really missing that beef pho now…
Here is our 4-day Hanoi-Halong Bay travel itinerary if you would like to see our trip’s details.
By: Chocolate and Marshmallow